The board of Tony Hayward’s new energy fund, Vallares, which will see the former head of BP return to British corporate life, is taking shape. George Rose, the former finance director at BAE Systems, the defence contractor, is in talks to take up the position of chair of the audit committee.
If he agrees, it would be a good catch for Hayward. Rose, who stepped down from the board of BAE in March this year, was well-respected during his time at the defence company. He is currently also a non-executive director at National Grid, a position he has held since 2002, and where he chairs the audit committee, and was until recently a candidate for its chairmanship.
In the last two days, we have had two new and similar accounts of the way in which BP’s corporate culture was to blame for the Gulf oil spill.
Following hard on the heels In Too Deep: BP and the drilling race that took it down, a book by two Bloomberg reporters, which was launched last night, comes an in-depth report by Fortune magazine.
The Fortune piece finds much the same as the book (review to follow) – the focus on risky new discoveries coupled with corporate cost-cutting that characterised the company under both John Browne and Tony Hayward helped foster an environment where such an accident could happen.
The Fortune piece focuses on one thing in particular: the way in which company bosses focused on personal safety rules for staff at the expense of process rules for avoid major industrial accidents.
Tony Hayward’s first interview since stepping down as CEO of BP airs on UK television tonight. And it looks like it’s going to mark another fascinating chapter in the terrible story of the Gulf oil spill.
A preview from the BBC on Tuesday presented snippets of Hayward describing just how dire the financial situation became for the company. Amongst other things, Hayward admits that banks had even stopped lending to BP before his meeting with President Obama on June 16:
Prior to the meeting, the capital markets were effectively closed to BP. We were not able to borrow either short or medium-term debt at all.
Could Tony Hayward be looking for a comeback? The FT’s Kevin Brown reports from Singapore that BP’s former boss has held informal talks to sit on the advisory panel at Temasek, the Singapore state investment agency.
This presumably wouldn’t detract from his day job at TNK-BP, but could mean a return to international prominence and a seat alongside the likes of Chuck Prince and Lee Raymond, the former ExxonMobil boss.
Kevin Brown writes:
It is understood that the discussions with Temasek have been brief and informal, and that they relate only to a possible appointment to Temasek’s International Advisory Panel, which usually meets only once a year and has no management role.
The idea that Mr Hayward might join the international panel was floated at a recent conference in Singapore at which Mr Hayward was a speaker.
UPDATE: Apologies to Sky’s (and our own) Mark Kleinman – I should have also linked to his story, which he broke on Thursday evening.
So it’s a pleasure as well as an honour to be invited to speak with you today.
It’s also humbling, not least because of the circumstances in which I stepped into this role – a tragic accident in which 11 people lost their lives and an oil spill that has impacted livelihoods, businesses and the environment.
But his message was essentially robust: we are not budging, either from the US or deepwater in general.
What will Tony Hayward do with the time he frees up by stepping down as BP CEO in just over a week? One audacious bid for his services comes from Hello Electric, an anti-oil campaign group which is supported by Purpose Campaigns – a New York-based company dedicated to supporting progressive social change.
Hello Electric is asking Hayward, who attracted ire in the US following the gulf oil spill, to embody his company’s former slogan and move “beyond petroleum” by becoming an advicate for electric cars. They even have a petition on their website for people to sign.
Here is their pitch:
During his tenure as CEO of BP, Tony Hayward and BP talked a lot about the need to move beyond petroleum. But with the massive gulf oil spill this April, he quickly became a symbol for the environmental damage caused by the oil industry. He has apologized for mistakes made, but we want to offer him an opportunity to take a real step towards a world beyond petroleum.
It’s a big milestone but it’s not the end of the story.
152 days after the accident on April 20 in the Gulf of Mexico which killed 11 workers and led to the worst environmental disaster in US waters, BP on Sunday finally sealed its ruptured Macondo well.
The UK oil group has promised to restore the damage done to the waters off the gulf coast and the livelihoods of the people affected by the spill. But even once the clean-up effort is scaled back, BP faces challenges on numerous fronts: potential litigation – it could face civil fines of $1,100 per barrel of oil spilled and up to $4,300 per barrel if gross negligence is found – as well as a host of ongoing investigations into the causes of the accident on the Deepwater Horizon rig.
How safe are energy companies? And how well prepared are they in case of an emergency?
These questions will take centre stage again today as BP’s outgoing chief executive Tony Hayward appears in front of the UK’s energy select committee.
In the months after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, the US regulatory agency overseeing the offshore industry was severely criticised for its lax inspection regime. Several serious failures on the Deepwater Horizon were found after the explosion, including dead batteries and insufficiently strong devices that could have shut off oil flow in case of an explosion.
When you took over as BP CEO two years ago you promised to make safety your top priotity. Why then has the company not only gone through the Deepwater Horizon spill, but faced multiple safety problems on its North Sea rigs?